History (from Greek ἱστορία - historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation" is the study of the human past. Scholars who write about history are called historians. It is a field of research which uses a narrative to examine and analyse the sequence of events, and it sometimes attempts to investigate objectively the patterns of cause and effect that determine events
How can you know where you are going if you do not know where you are coming from? I think that is what history is all about . Learning how you got to where you are. History is not just the big events, it is what has happened to you on a daily basis. Learning about your grandparents and great grandparents is also learning about history.
As someone who works in schools I often hear high school students ask why do we have to learn about history. The response above is usually how I answer, we have to study history to learn from our past mistakes and not make them again.
Whenever I think of history, I always think of the warning - those who do not learned from the past are destined to repeat it. There is a circular nature to history, a cycle that tends to repeat itself over and over again. That said, I wonder how much we do learn form the past. We look back on the atrocity of slavery, yet we still allow for other forms of slavery to exist such as wage-based persecution of low-income workers.
I think, where cause and effect conme into play lies in the fact that anything in history can be looked at as part of a cuasal chain. One incident happens which leads to another and another and another. The important thing to remember is that each incident, each link on the chain, is not acting in isolation. Take this for example, not based on history, but evident of the causal relationship:
Joe drove drunk therefore he caused a fatal accident. The simpler answer is to say that because Joe drove drunk, the accident occurred, but this is not the case. Here is a fuller causal chain:
Joe's company was having cutbacks because of the economy. Joe lost his job. Joe became depressed. Joe went to the bar to have a drink. Joe had a few too many drinks. Joe did not have money for a cab and the bartender did not stop Joe from leaving. Joe chose to get in his car. Joe chose to start his car and drive. Joe chose a particular route to get home. Joe was impaired in his thinking and ran a red light. A similar set of causal events was also going on with Sue which led her to cross Joe's path at that exact moment, leading to the accident that claimed her life.
History is a lot like that - a serious of interconnected cause and effect relationships that build one on another to an ultimate end or outcome.
I always think about a quote that my college history professor repeated often, "History books are written by the winners of the battles and wars." To a large extent, that is true. I find that if you really want an accurate (or as accurate as you can get) portrayal of any incident, one must look to several accounts of the event and gleen the truth from what is in between the lines.
And to follow on that quote, anonymous: "History is 95% lost to the ages and 5% lied about and revised". Interesting point about how much of history is lost permanently, and we rely on an almost oral tradition to try and retain it.
I’m not sure what you want in the way of a response, but what is your opinion of the following quote by Napoleon Bonaparte, "History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon?"